Increase in Concussion Injuries Leads to Youth Soccer Ban on “Heading”

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1166574_54608622.jpgA rise in the number of concussions among youth soccer players, particularly girls, has led health officials and sports organizations to recommend a ban on “heading” the ball. Heading is considered an important move for most players, but research suggests that the risk of injury it poses to young players is greater than any benefit the move may have for the game. Some youth soccer organizations have already banned the practice for their teams.

The Hartford Courant reports that children and teenagers receive treatment in hospital emergency rooms for around 175,000 concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) related to sports every years. Other estimates place the number as high as 300,000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of sports-related TBIs in children and teens has gone up by sixty percent in the past decade. High school football, which is almost exclusively a male sport, accounts for the highest number of TBIs each year, with about 55,000. Girls’ soccer ranks second, with 29,000 TBIs reported per year, more than in all levels of boys’ soccer combined. The single-greatest cause of concussions in youth soccer players, researchers have found, is heading the ball. The impact of the ball and the player’s head is only part of the risk, along with the fact that players attempting to head the ball often collide with one another.

Although a concussion is considered a mild form of TBI, a single concussion can have long-term, debilitating effects if not treated properly. Many youth soccer players suffer multiple concussions over their soccer career. NBC Sports reported that some studies found a higher incidence of brain damage among adult players who frequently headed the ball, and estimated that amateur adult players head the ball an average of 1,000 to 1,500 times every year.

Five People Injured, One Killed in Two Separate Connecticut Gas Explosions in Past Month

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1340839_82326988.jpgTwo separate gas-related explosions in Connecticut homes have left five people injured and caused the death of one person. An explosion in New Milford in late August killed one person and injured two. Three people were injured in an explosion in Shelton in mid-September. Both explosions appear to have resulted from gas leaks. Natural gas explosions can be devastating, with damages ranging from the severe destruction of these two to the catastrophic destruction of the Kleen Energy Systems plant explosion in Middletown in 2010.

The New Milford explosion occurred during the evening of August 29, 2012. A homeowner and his friend were reportedly attempting to repair a gas leak in the house. The friend’s nine year-old son was also present at the house. The homeowner had reportedly sent his two children to a neighbor’s house after he smelled gas. The friend, a licensed plumber, was killed in the explosion. The homeowner and the friend’s child suffered severe burns and were rushed to the hospital. The house was essentially leveled, with only the chimney remaining. People reported hearing the explosion miles away.

The explosion in Shelton happened in the afternoon of September 10. Two employees of Pioneer Gas & Appliance Company made a routine stop to switch a homeowner’s gas service from a different provider. As the two workers attempted to light the water heater’s pilot light, something triggered an explosion that was felt throughout the neighborhood. The two gas company employees and the homeowner suffered serious burns. As with the New Milford case, members of the homeowner’s family were instructed to vacate the house when the employees smelled gas. Investigators suspect a gas leak caused the explosion.

Widow of Heart Attack Victim May Recover Worker’s Compensation Benefits, According to the Connecticut Court of Appeals

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726216_95316198.jpgThe widow of a man who died from a stress-induced heart attack may claim worker’s compensation benefits, according to a ruling from the Connecticut Court of Appeals. The defendants in Wikander v. Asbury Automotive Group alleged that the plaintiff was ineligible for benefits because she did not file her claim within the time period required by statute. The worker’s compensation commissioner ruled for the plaintiff, and the Worker’s Compensation Review Board and the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

The decedent, Thomas Wikander, was an employee of Asbury Automotive Group. He died of a heart attack while on a business trip in Texas on September 25, 2007. The medical examiner determined that stress from Thomas Wikander’s employment played a substantial role in his death. A cardiologist in Connecticut would later concur with this determination.

Thomas Wikander’s widow, Donna Wikander, filed a claim in 2008 for benefits from Texas’ worker’s compensation program. After Asbury denied liability and an attorney informed Wikander that Texas would not grant benefits for a heart attack, she did not pursue the claim. Wikander filed a claim for worker’s compensation benefits in Connecticut in September 2009, nearly two years after her husband’s death. Asbury did not file the form 43 used to dispute liability, so Wikander filed a motion to preclude them from denying liability.

Home Invasion in Connecticut Leads to $835K Verdict for False Imprisonment, Other Intentional Torts

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962334_57900306.jpgA Connecticut woman received a jury verdict of $835,700 in a lawsuit against her employer for false imprisonment and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. She worked in a home office at her employer’s residence, and was held there against her will for several hours when someone broke into the house. The lawsuit, Socci v. Pasiak, alleged intentional torts rather than a premises liability theory, such as inadequate security, because her employer allegedly cooperated with or assisted her assailant. The defendant challenged the verdict on several grounds, but the Connecticut Court of Appeals upheld it.

The plaintiff, Sara Socci worked for the defendant, Jeffrey Pasiak, in an office located in his home in Stamford. While the plaintiff was at work by herself on May 9, 2006, a masked man with a gun entered her second-floor office and ordered her to open the safe. She did not know the combination. While trying to get her to give him the combination, the intruder blindfolded and gagged her, and tied her hands. He also held his gun to her head and threatened to kill her family if she did not tell him the safe combination.

The defendant returned to the office while the intruder was still present. The two men fought, and the defendant sustained injuries. The intruder’s mask came off while they were fighting, and he was revealed as Pasiak’s close friend Richard Kotulsky. The two began to talk, and the plaintiff heard them discuss what to do about “the girl,” referring to her. Pasiak let Kotulsky leave the premises, at which point Socci told him about Kotulsky’s threats to her family. Pasiak allegedly advised her not to contact the police or speak to anyone about the incident. She said she did not leave the premises for hours, for fear of harm to her family.

Connecticut Court Finds that Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Excludes Coverage for Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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1262369_50725916.jpgThe Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s ruling that an insurance company, under the terms of a homeowner’s policy it issued, is not responsible for covering a wrongful death claim arising from a motorcycle accident. The insurance company filed a suit for declaratory judgment in New London County Mutual Ins. Co. v Bialobrodec, based on a wrongful death lawsuit against its insured. The company asked the court to confirm its obligations under the insurance policy. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged multiple causes of action, including negligent supervision of the insured’s son, who allowed the decedent to use his motorcycle. The trial court in the declaratory action ruled in the insurance company’s favor, finding that the injury in question was the result of a motor vehicle accident, and that the policy excluded coverage for such accidents.

Adrian Bialobrodec allowed his friend TyCody Dzikiewicz to use his motorcycle at about 12:35 a.m. on September 1, 2008. TyCody reportedly suffered fatal injuries when he lost control of the motorcycle and hit a tree. The administrator of TyCody’s estate, Edward Dzikiewicz, filed suit against Adrian’s parents, Andrzej and Grazyna Bialobrodec, on November 5, 2009, alleging negligent supervision of Adrian, leading to TyCody’s death. The suit claimed that the Bialobrodecs were negligent in allowing Adrian to purchase the motorcycle and give it to TyCody to use. Dzikiewicz also named Adrian as a defendant in the lawsuit, alleging that he negligently failed to supervise TyCody and his use of the motorcycle.

Jury Verdict for Doctor in Connecticut Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Affirmed on Question of Negligence Allegation

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1208969_96972499.jpgThe Connecticut Court of Appeals recently affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of a cardiologist in a medical malpractice suit. In Guerri v. Fiengo, a decedent’s estate alleged multiple breaches of the doctor’s duty of care, including a duty to consult with the decedent’s treating physician. The trial court refused to submit this particular negligence allegation to the jury. On appeal, the decedent’s estate argued that the trial court erred in doing so.

The decedent, Craig S. Guerri, went to the emergency room of Groton’s Pequot Treatment Center on December 17, 2006, complaining of chest pains and left-arm numbness. He underwent an electrocardiogram, which showed an “abnormal result.” A physician on duty in the emergency room diagnosed Guerri with “atypical chest wall pain” and discharged him. Later that morning, the on-call cardiologist at a nearby hospital, Dr. Mark Fiengo, reviewed Guerri’s electrocardiogram. The court’s opinion notes that about eighty percent of the electrocardiograms reviewed by Fiengo had “abnormal results.” Fiengo determined that Guerri’s electrocardiogram showed no “critical values,” defined by the hospital as any test result that would cause a patient a “serious adverse outcome” if reporting were delayed. Fiengo therefore took no further action.

Three days later, on December 20, Guerri died. The medical examiner identified the cause of death as a “myocardial infarction” resulting from a “spontaneous dissection of the coronary artery.” The hospital’s policy identifies four electrocardiogram results that it considers “critical values,” one of which is a suspected myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack.

Plaintiff Cannot Recover on Multiple Underinsured Motorist Policies, According to Connecticut Court of Appeals

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1335451_40273159.jpgThe “antistacking” provisions in Connecticut’s laws, which govern uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage, prohibit a person from claiming benefits on two separate policies, according to the Connecticut Court of Appeals. In Stott v. Peerless Insurance Company, the court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendant insurance company, which had successfully argued that the antistacking law precluded the plaintiff’s claim.

The court stated in its opinion that, since 1979, Connecticut has required auto insurance policies to include coverage for injuries that should be covered by another driver’s auto insurance, but who is un- or underinsured. The intention was to allow an insured person to recover the benefits they could have recovered had the liable party been sufficiently insured. A law passed in 1993 limits a person’s claim on un- or underinsured motorist coverage to the person’s primary policy. This ended a practice known as “stacking,” in which a person could claim benefits from a secondary policy on top of the benefits received from the primary policy.

In the case at hand, the plaintiff suffered severe injuries on July 1, 2009, when an oncoming driver crossed into her lane and struck her vehicle head-on. The other driver’s insurance had a liability limit of $20,000, an amount far insufficient for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff’s policy, issued by the defendant, included underinsured motorist coverage up to $100,000. She received $20,000 from the other driver’s insurance company, followed by $80,000 from the defendant pursuant to her own policy. The plaintiff, who lived with her parents at the time, was a named beneficiary under their policy, also issued by the defendant. The parents’ policy included coverage for relatives residing with them and provided $250,000 in un- or underinsured motorist benefits.

Connecticut Court of Appeals Precludes Employer from Contesting Claim for Worker’s Compensation Benefits

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1219597_98382759.jpgAn employer is precluded from contesting an employee’s claims for worker’s compensation benefits, the Connecticut Court of Appeals ruled in Callender v. Reflexite Corp., because it did not meet its obligations under the Connecticut Worker’s Compensation Act to file a form officially contesting the claim or to begin payments within twenty-eight days. The defendant argued that the claim related to injuries on which the plaintiff had already made a worker’s compensation claim. The court found this argument unpersuasive.

The plaintiff worked for the defendant for close to twenty years, from 1987 until May 11, 2006. This case addressed two worker’s compensation claims. The plaintiff filed a claim in October 2005 for injuries allegedly stemming from “repetitive workplace trauma between 1987 and 2004,” involving a painful condition affecting her neck, both shoulders and hands, her right arm, and her lower back. The defendant filed form 43, a notice to contest the claim, and began making payments in a timely manner. The plaintiff continued working for the defendant after that claim, but eventually left her employment due to injuries. She went to the hospital on April 29, 2006 for back spasms and neck pain, and her last day of work was about two weeks later.